Maalik Wayns left Villanova a year early and went undrafted after a disappointing junior campaign on the Main Line, but his talent wasn't unnoticed. After a successful stint in the Orlando Summer League, the Philadelphia native found himself with a job offer from his hometown NBA franchise. Wayns took that offer and finds himself in training camp with the 76ers as they prepare for the 2012-13 season.
In theory, he will be battling with Royal Ivey for the back-up point guard spot on the team. LibertyBallers.com didn't see that as much of a competition, but Sixer's coach Doug Collins seemed to indicate that it was at the team's media day yesterday.
"Wayns gives us a different element, speed," Collins told reporters, going on to suggest that Wayns played, "out of character" last season to try and help a Villanova team that struggled in many aspects of the game.
His scoring skills were on display last season for the Wildcats, averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds, but he didn't exhibit the traditional pass-first point guard mentality that a lot of coaches want to see. He also struggled shooting the ball from deep, often appearing to force his shot from the perimeter at times.
He played much better as a point guard in the summer league, however, averaging 5.7 assists per game over his three-game stint.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wayns explained:
"My game has improved tons. I've improved tremendously," Wayns said. "You're going to see a whole different player. I don't have to score the way I did at Villanova, I don't have to do the things I had to do. I can just be a point guard and get these guys shots. I have a lot of big guys around me.
"A lot of people didn't know I could play the point guard position that way [like he did in Orlando]. A lot of people didn't know that I could pass like that or run the team like that. I just showed them, and that's what earned me an NBA job. I knew I could do that. I did that my sophomore year. My freshman year I did it, too. My junior year it was just a different situation so now I can get back to myself and how I played in high school and how I played coming up."
Teammates Evan Turner and Jrue Holliday also showered the Villanova guard with praise, calling him "tough" and glowing about his ability to use his speed to make plays for their team.
If nothing else, Wayns' speed brings a new element to the Sixers in practices that might not be replicated with Royal Ivey. Playing against a speedy guard like that will help guys like Holliday to prepare for some of the league's other speedy point guards like John Wall or Brandon Jennings. That might be the value he needs to offer to claim a spot on the bench for Philadelphia.